ARCHIV - 08.06.2022, Hamburg: Joachim Gauck, Bundespräsident a.D., spricht in der Handelskammer. (zu dpa "Gauck würde notfalls selbst zur Waffe greifen") Foto: Georg Wendt/dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

In view of the war in Ukraine, former Federal President Joachim Gauck warned against false pacifism and declared that he would take up arms himself if necessary. “I wish I didn’t have to do it. But in such a case I would do it, yes,” said the 82-year-old late Wednesday evening on the ZDF program “Markus Lanz”.

Lanz had previously pointed out that there would be a different debate in Germany if Berlin, rather than Ukraine, was attacked. He asked Gauck if, as a former pastor, he would take up arms and shoot someone in such a case.

Gauck called the pacifist approach to personal life “honourable”. But it is an approach “that does not lead to good, but that would cement the dominance of the bad, the criminals and the inhuman”.

The former Federal President warned against “surrendering to the unscrupulous” and said: “The unscrupulous does not ask himself whether it is right to take up arms to enforce his claims.” Only the conscientious did this.

“And when the conscientious, shying away from defensive action, even from robust defensive action, say, ‘No, I won’t get my hands dirty’, then they betray the basis of values, which actually made life possible for them as they did it living right now.”

Gauck spoke of a “revisit of the need to defend what has grown dear to us, what has brought us freedom and meanwhile also considerable prosperity”. He stated: “Amazingly, there is a change in the population towards more willingness to defend one’s own country and also to accept the defense spending as it has now been decided. That has been different for decades.”

The predecessor of Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier called for solidarity with the “victim who was attacked” in Ukraine. It will be tolerable if the temperatures are dimmed down a bit when heating in Germany. “And you can also survive a gap in prosperity,” said Gauck, referring to the threatening economic consequences of the Ukraine war for Germany.

A dip can turn into an upswing again. “And it is also not said that we will live in ever-increasing prosperity.”

The Germans shouldn’t think too little of themselves, said Gauck. “We are not just the ones who can do the economic miracle. But we are also the ones who can grit our teeth when we can help other people.” The question is whether one really has to be afraid “that we will fail in life,” says Gauck. “Or whether we’re just going into a phase where the sweetest dreams can’t be realized, where we might only go on vacation once instead of twice.”